Review: Above by Isla Morley

AboveIn the bestselling vein of Room and The Lovely Bones, a stunning and harrowing novel about a Kansas teenager who is abducted and locked away in an abandoned missile silo by a survivalist who believes he is saving her from the impending destruction of the world.
Blythe focuses on finding a way to escape until she discovers that she also has to deal with crushing loneliness, the terrifying madness of her captor, and the persistent temptation to give up. Nothing, however, prepares her for the burden of having to raising a child in confinement.
Out of fear, she pushes aside the truth about a world her son may never see for a myth that just might give meaning to his life underground. But when fate intervenes, Blythe and her son manage to re-emerge, only to find themselves in a world even more terrifying than the one they left behind.
Riveting and unforgettable, Above is a beautifully written and compelling tale of survival, resilience, and hope.” – Publisher Summary

After reading that it was being compared to Room by Emma Donoghue and The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold (both novels that I adore), I was anxious to take a crack at the newly released Above by Isla Morley. Due to aforementioned comparisons, my expectations were high. Why, oh why do I do that to myself?

Blythe is sixteen-years-old when her creepy school librarian lures her into a trap and squirrels her away into an abandoned missile silo which he has turned into a psycho-prepper bunker (key word here: psycho). Her captor is obsessed with “the end of the world’ and has many conspiracy theories as to how it will come about. He is of the belief that he and Blythe are “The Remnant” and that after they survive the apocolypse, it will be up to the two of them to reanimate the human race. There is no chance at escape, and Blythe remains a captive for a whopping sixteen years. During this time she bears her captor’s child.

At some point during her captivity, her jailer moves down into the bunker with Blythe and child, leaving only periodically to “hunt” for food and necessities, returning with haunting stories of a changed world and dangerous people. One day, after a scuffle, Blythe gets a little happy with her crochet needle and stabs Mr. Psycho-Prepper in the jugular, thus paving the way for she and her son to finally escape and return to her family, friends, and the world she had left behind. But wait… things are a little bit different when Blythe et al climb out of the bunker, and things go downhill fast. What follows is a tense, anxiety-filled race to find a place of safety, of peace – and hopefully, a place to call home.

There were things that I did and did not like about this novel. Allow me to say this: other than the fact that she was kidnapped, held underground, and had a child by her captor, there is no similarity between this novel and the two it has been compared to in the press, so don’t get your hopes up. Things take a completely different path here, and we witness an almost dystopian-like bend to second half of the novel. Which, decidedly, is not usually my thing. Morley is a talented writer, and she does well to paint a picture of the loss and despair Blythe experiences as she is held captive. I was much encouraged as I reached the last pages of the novel, as things took more of a turn toward some kind of reconciliation with past and present – I am a sucker for happy endings, and while this wasn’t necessarily a happy ending, there was at least a sense of mutual satisfaction amongst characters (and this reader).

Above is definitely a novel you’ll want to look into if you are a fan of suspense; possibly if you are a fan of dystopian fiction as well, although that is not the main theme of this novel. If you’d like a second opinion about things, be sure to check out The Well-Read Redhead’s as-always-astute review here.

Above by Isa Morley is available now at a bookseller near you! Buy it, read it, love it.

3 of 5 stars

Source: Gallery Books, Threshold, PocketBooks {via NetGalley}

 

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